Who Cares? Testimonials

Here more from pupils, teachers and the assistant head at the Stoke Dameral Community College, Plymouth, who have been working with the Who Cares? Project for the past 3 years.

The impact of Who Cares? In schools.

JoelJoel Archibald, 16

Joel cares for his father, who has physical and mental health problems.

Through the Who Cares? Project in school, I now recognise myself as a young carer, and that

there are others like me. 

My peers in class now understand what my life is like, and why I am sometimes worried…I used to think that I was nobody, but it’s like Who Cares? has given me a voice and that sharing my experience can help others.

Me and my dad have a future. The world is no longer such as dark and frightening place.I feel that the Who Cares? Project has saved my life.

I was 13 when Dad got ill he had depression and chronic heart disease, and loads of other things. I had to cook every night do dishes, clean up – everything I thought Dad would do. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t bear it but I wasn’t able to concentrate on school work and had really bad grades in English and maths.

It was complicated in the beginning because no one knew that l was a carer.

Until I saw the Who Cares? film I felt isolated. I didn’t have any school friends, I was on my own everyday. Sometimes l wouldn’t go home until seven or eight because I didn’t want to. But that has all changed because l have opened up and told my stories.

After I did this even others in my class changed their way of acting. It has helped me to talk. It was easier to talk to a group than one-to-one. Now it’s better and easier, but my Dad  won’t get better. It will be like this until I leave home.

There are good days and bad days. Dad doesn’t see himself as ill he is always going to be stuck with it but l find it easier to cope now. And my grades have picked up. I have now heard of people having the same or worse problems but never met them face to face.

My advice to anyone in the same boat is to speak to someone before it’s too late. When you are in the situation you feel isolated and don’t want to speak to anyone because you feel no one will help and you think you are the only one with those problems. Speak to a family member you can trust or a teacher or a friend you can trust. Us young people don’t get enough information about this. The authorities don’t really know how we feel. They should come and talk to people like us. Posters and books could help to inform and help us. Kidstime and Who Cares? are doing that.

It’s nice to see someone in your situation and watch what they do. When I saw the first Kidstime Who Cares? film. I thought that was me. That’s what I’m hoping this film will achieve with others.

Anita Frear – Vice Principal

Stoke Damerel Community College have been greatly involved in the development and piloting of the materials for the Who Cares? Project. The involvement in this project has had a positive impact on the school, the students and the staff. The three main areas this project has made an impact on is through the delivery of the module to two year groups; the involvement of the drama department in the exploration of mental health through developing the Jaz Story; and finally the young carers group that has been set up in response to the project.

During the last academic year the Who Cares? Project modules were delivered to two years groups within the school. From the evaluation of this project it is clear that it has had a huge impact on both students and staff within the school.

The evaluation showed that students enjoyed taking part in the project, learning about a topic that is not widely spoken about in society and it helped resolved some misconceptions that they had about mental health illness. Students identified they were scared or apprehensive at the beginning of the project, however as the sessions progressed and discussions developed the students soon felt relieved as they realised others were feeling the same.

At the end of the project many students commented on how the project allowed them to understand other people’s needs and how it is acceptable to talk about mental health. Other students identified they had a negative attitude towards mental health at the beginning of the project, however by the end they realised their perceptions and attitude towards mental health had changed.

Other feedback identified that students felt they were able to show a clear understanding of why they were taking part in the project and many were left feeling confident to talk about parental mental health and mental health more widely. A selection of students also acknowledged how they felt able to offer support to friends and family who may be suffering from a mental illness as a result of taking part in the project.

There were many staff involved in the planning and delivery of the modules. Staff who delivered these were provided with support to prepare for the sessions to ensure they felt comfortable and confident to talk about the topics being covered. Feedback from the staff was very positive. Staff commented on how confident they felt in delivering the sessions, and how the sessions allowed them to build up a more open relationship with the students they were working with. As a result of the project staff felt they could sensitively support students and have conversations around parental mental health and mental health more widely.

With regards to the work within the drama department, over 30 students were drawn from 2 drama classes in Year 9. They worked closely with members of the KidsTime Foundation and the Head of Drama, exploring issues of mental health and developing ‘Jaz’s story’. These students are now in year 11. The long term benefit for them has been twofold – firstly, the development of their confidence, empathy and skill shown in the subject (Drama) and secondly in specific development work in the area of mental health. The majority of these students are predicted to achieve high grades in their GCSE Drama – far higher than the national average. The maturity they now have, the closeness and support they share – we see as a direct result of the work they did on Who Cares? A number of them have become ambassadors for the school, speaking at major events and also meeting with the Secretary of State for Education when she visited in 2015. Their understanding and confidence to talk about mental health will be of life long benefit.

During the project, more than one student was able to identify themselves as a young carer. For others they felt able to recognise their own mental health issues and to seek help and support. This had an impact on the whole school – one female student went on to work with MIND. She then worked with her Drama class, devising and leading a series of workshops. This culminated in a performance which was seen by the whole college population in assemblies – over 1,000 young people.

Finally, here at Stoke Damerel Community College we now have a young carers group that offers support to students who may be a carer for a parent or sibling with a physical or mental illness. This group was set up as a result of student voice following discussions with Alan Cooklin, where the need for a support group based around young carers within the school was identified.

The group has been developed over the last three years and meet on a fortnightly basis. During these meetings the group spend time taking part in a wide range of activities that offer relaxation and time away from the caring role. Since the Who Cares? Project has been introduced within the school there has been an increase in the number of students attending this group who have a parent or a sibling with a mental illness. Being involved in the Who Cares? Project and the young carers group has allowed students to recognise they are not alone in their caring role and realise there are many other students within the school who are carrying out similar roles at home every day.

The benefit for the school of this project is that, through the vehicle of Who Cares? and our working relationship with the KidsTime Foundation we have become a Mental Health aware school. It has become embedded in our culture and something we, staff and students, are very proud of. We look forward to continuing the work of the Who Cares? Project within the school and continue to observe students engaging in the project and removing the stigma based around mental health.

 

drama

‘The Who Cares? Drama team wrote a play for assemblies in school. The audience were so engaged and the focus so intense you could hear a pin drop. They really took in the message. By the end of the week over 600 people watched this student-led work.

One young carer said: “I really enjoyed it. The Who Cares? Project has given me so much confidence and even made me want to carry on with directing and performing”.

Catrina Garratt – Head of Drama at Stoke Damerel Community College 

 

If you are interested in learning more about bringing the Who Cares? Project to your school, please contact us here.

 

The Who Cares? Project is supported by the following Stakeholders group:

Anna Freud Centre, Barnardo’s, British Association of Adoption and Fostering, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Carers Trust, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – Care, Well-being Partnership, The Children’s Society, Family Action, Journal of Public Mental Health, The Kidstime Foundation Trustees, The Kidstime Project, MAST Team Plymouth Excellence Cluster, Newcastle City Council,PSHE Association, Quintin Kynaston School, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal College of General practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Psychiatrists,  Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health, British Paediatric Mental Health Group, Stoke Damerel Community College – Plymouth, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, Team Media, Young Minds.